I make no secret of the fact that I can be a bit of a geek. Two of my favourite ‘geeky’ subjects include geology and wildlife, things which are both in abundance on Skye.
Put these both together and you get something else, something that this island is also well-known for…
Alongside the usual ammonites and belemnites there is some more unusual, charismatic evidence of a prehistoric era; the Staffin dinosaur footprints.
With Staffin being only ten minutes away from my new home I couldn’t wait for my chance to see these famous fossils. A couple of days after moving in I waited for the late low tide then set off for the beach.
Pulling up in the car park above the beach I looked down over the boulders and scanned the rocks below.
Luckily I’m familiar with the appearance of fossilised sea bed and I spotted the section of tell-tale yellowish ripples from the rocks above before I’d even got down to the beach.
I raced down to them and searched…
I couldn’t help exclaiming out loud.
It was ridiculous, the most unrealistic-looking thing.
A huge, great big footprint that looked like cartoon or prop from a B-movie. Had someone been filming the next Jurassic Park and forgotten to take one of the set pieces home?
If it looks unreal in my photos believe me, it was more incredible in real life.
A few steps further and I came across more. Three-toed, of all different sizes pointing in all different directions.
Seeing them reminded me of something I’d read online that said the prints looked like the dinosaurs were playing a game of Twister. It’s a pretty apt description!
I was surprised to find that, unlike other important sites in the UK, these rocks aren’t protected and sectioned-off. In fact, they’re barely marked at all bar a small diagram on the sign in the car park.
Because of this (plus factors such as the tides and shifting sands) a lot of people arrive and leave having never found them.
-In fact, when I brought the Ranger family to see them they had been completely covered by a thick blanket of sand that would have been impossible to dig through. That time they were not to be seen.
Perhaps I wouldn’t have found them either if I hadn’t already known a little about the rocks to look for.
When I posted a photo of my wellies being dwarfed by a print on Facebook one of my friends was incredulous. It couldn’t be real, surely?
His reasoning that they couldn’t have withstood millions of years of erosion was a fair point. However, as they were only discovered in 2002 (by local B&B owner, Cathie Booth), they haven’t actually been exposed for that long.
You can read more about the discovery here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/2210169.stm
Soon enough they’ll disappear again properly, permanently eroded by the moving tide and feet of visitors. Maybe the rocks behind them will give way to reveal more, maybe they wont. I suppose this is just our short space of time where we can look back at prints made in another, far-away short space of time.
Geeky or not, I think that’s pretty frickin cool.
Fantastic. Great report, looking forward to more…
I recently found some footprints down on the south coast near Hastings. I was just as excited as you were. There are a couple of photos on my blog under the post ‘Sands Of Time’.
Wow, I’ve just read your post. Lovely words (not just on that, on all your posts)
Hastings footprints look amazing too. I’ve just looked up fossil finds in the area, looks fascinating!
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Oh I think yours are better! Happy hunting! And thanks for looking and the nice comments, much appreciated. Looking forward to seeing more of your finds!
Have you identified your prints? Mine were probably iguanadon.
Just realised you were not the original blog author and fellow fossil hunter, but the baker of some rather delicious looking desserts! 🙂
Nope that’s me too. More than one blog (though the other one is horrendously neglected whilst I’m distracted by the dinos!)
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Multi talented then! 😉
Finally managed to find a few mins to read your blog. Sounds like your having an awesome time, very jealous. If only I could do remote ‘air traffic control’ life would be easier!
Thanks Dan 🙂
We’re trying to get the airfield opened up here, new job possibilities…?
(In the meantime I can send down whisky and shortbread!) x
Whiskey and food, do you need anything else as an adult? Ah how cool, an addition to the highlands and islands, weird connection…I wrote the mock exam papers for the air traffic controllers up there! Was 5 odd years ago but funny old world x
Wow! I was on Staffin beach only two days ago and didn’t even know to look for them!! Beautiful photographs! Very dramatic.
Sounds like a good excuse to go back…
(Plus, time on the beach is never time wasted!)
I hope you don’t mind: I have posted a link to your post about the dinosaur footprints, on my post about Staffin Beach. (I’m a good 10 days behind on posts of our trip! ) let me know if you’d like me to change it- I’ve never referenced another blogger before 🙂 Thanks, Carol.
Ahh, thank you! I’m chuffed to be linked to your blog, it’s awesome 🙂
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Thanks! 😊 I’m enjoying your blog too!
Me and my wife must have spent about an hour looking for those footprints last time we were at Skye! We later found out they are only accessible at low tide.
In regards to the lack of information about the location of the footprints, I think generally that is a good thing. There is a bit of an unwritten rule that there exact location shouldn’t be too widely publicised, for fear of theft or vandalism. The footprints are of such value that it would not be beyond the realms of possibility that someone would cut them out of the stone, I’m fairly certain it has happened before in other places.
Very true. There are lots of stories of things going missing lately, the fossil hunters have been out in force this summer.
That said, they’re even covered over at low tide at the moment, we need another storm to move the sand away before we can see them again!